Victory for the Reclaim Campaign!


Blessed are the Peacemakers: Reclaim Campaign and Chief Judge Evans Partner for Peace

"Pullman Presbyterian Church does a lot of charity, like giving out food and clothes, but about a year ago I began to reflect on the meaning justice in regard to my community of Roseland-Pullman. I began to look at scripture and the way that Jesus was engaged in justice, and my persective changed to see charity with a focus on justice. I learned that by working with legislators, judges and community leaders we can impact thousands and bring about  significant changes.

The reforms that Judge Evans committed to on Thursday, July 24, are important because they are part of a larger process of addressing violence in our communities."  

- Rev. Eddie Knox, pastor of Pullman Presbyterian Church, and CRS Leader in the Reclaim Campaign

We want to thank Chief Judge Evans for the commitments he has made to our communities. Send an email to Judge Evans and remind him that we are standing with him and the judges of Cook County as they implement these necessary reforms.

What Reform Means for Our Communities

There were shouts of joy and celebration at New Landmark Missionary Baptist Church on Thursday, July 24, 2014 where 500 leaders from Community Renewal Society, Southside Together Organizing for Power, and Gamaliel of Metro Chicago began a partnership with Cook County Chief Judge Evans to prevent violence by creating a new Restorative Justice diversion and reforming the court system.

Judge Evans committed to help create a Restorative Justice Diversion Pilot Program for adult arrestees that will be the first of its kind in Cook County. Starting in November, 100 low-level offenders will be diverted into Peace Hubs where they will be able to repair the harm they have caused. This Restorative Justice Pilot Program will help prevent violence by diffusing conflict before it escalates, supporting victims in the healing process and providing offenders support to turn their lives around.

The commitment by Judge Evans to reform bond court and pretrial services is just as important. Every year thousands of people, facing low-level nonviolent charges, are being held unnecessarily in Cook County Jail because they cannot afford to pay their bail. As Reclaim Campaign leader Russell Cunningham testified, our court system punishes people for being poor.  Many of these individuals are released when their cases are dismissed at a preliminary hearing. Others are held until they make a plea deal with the State’s Attorney. These days spent in detention ruin lives and drain resources Cook County desperately needs to prevent violence.

Judge Evans committed to reforming bond court by moving from a system that relies on monetary bonds toward a system where low-level offenders are released on personal recognizance (no bond). A secondary review of bond will also be reinstituted so that low-level bond amounts are reviewed and re-evaluated if they have not been posted within a designated timeframe. This system will model best practices implemented by Washington D.C. and Montgomery County Maryland. 

Furthermore, the Pretrial Services Department will also use a validated risk assessment tool so that they can conduct appropriate evaluation of all pretrial detainees. This will lead to better recommendations on bond amounts and more accurately identifying detainees that are good candidates for diversion. A detailed plan for implementing these court reforms will be released by Chief Judge Evans in October 2014.

We want to thank Chief Judge Evans for the commitments he has made to our communities. Send an email to Judge Evans and remind him that we are standing with him and the judges of Cook County as they implement these necessary reforms.

Thank you for your continued advocacy to move the Reclaim Campaign forward. Each victory brings us closer to repairing justice, restoring lives, and rebuilding our communities.

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